Russia inaugurated on Sunday a huge new cathedral dedicated to its armed forces that had caused controversy over initial plans to decorate its interior with mosaics depicting Russian President Vladimir Putin and Soviet-era leader Joseph Stalin.
Russian Orthodox Church officials said last month neither would be depicted in the cathedral.
The richly decorated 95-metre high cathedral, dedicated to the 75th anniversary of the Soviet victory over Nazi Germany in World War Two, was built in less than two years in a theme park about 55 kilometers (34 miles) from Moscow.
The cathedral had been scheduled to open its doors in May when Russia was also planning to hold a military parade, but both events were postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic.
At a ceremony attended by Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu and military and church officials, Patriarch Kirill, head of Russia’s Orthodox Church, thanked Putin and Shoigu for helping to get the cathedral built.
During his two decades in power, Putin has forged close ties with the Orthodox Church.
Originally, the new cathedral was meant to include a mosaic of Putin and Shoigu demonstrating their support for Russia’s 2014 annexation of Crimea from Ukraine.
Another mosaic panel would have shown a group of women gathered in front of a sign reading “Crimea is ours.”
The Church dropped the planned mosaics in line with “the wishes of the head of state”, a priest told Interfax news agency last month. The Kremlin said Putin felt it was too early to celebrate the accomplishments of Russia’s current leadership.
Russian media also reported that one of the cathedral’s mosaic panels was originally designed to show a portrait of Stalin, who is widely held responsible for the deaths of millions of innocent people, many in the Gulag labor camps.
The Orthodox Church and other religious groups suffered persecution during Stalin’s three-decade rule in the atheistic Soviet Union.
US protests show ‘deep-seated’ crises in the country, says Russia’s PutinRussian President Vladimir Putin said Sunday that the US anti-racism protests were a sign of deep crises in the country, in his first comments on the ... World News
Russia vote on constitutional reforms on July 1, says President PutinRussian President Vladimir Putin on Monday said a nationwide vote on constitutional reforms that could extend his rule in the Kremlin would be held on ... World News
Russia’s Putin bestows birthday medal on loyal defense chiefRussian President Vladimir Putin on Thursday bestowed a 65th birthday honor on Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu, his loyal ally in the Syria conflict ... Variety